Enterprise Content Management practitioners often get immersed in the technologies and routines of ECM and forget that ECM is there to support the enterprise’s business processes. If this support is not forthcoming, ECM becomes just another distracting and resource-consuming exercise. Or worse, it can create a mess that damages the business.
How does ECM help an enterprise’s business processes? The answer comes from AIIM (http://www.aiim.org/)—the ECM Association. AIIM supports the ECM practitioners through researched articles, case studies, white papers, training programs, and other resources.
AIIM is launching two new training programs that reinforce AIIM’s emphasis on the role of ECM in supporting an organization’s business processes. One program is for Business Process Management and the other for Information Organization and Access.
The BPM program covers streamlining and re-engineering business processes through
- Requirements gathering and analysis
- Application integration
- Process design and modeling
- Monitoring and process analysis
- Managing change
The IOA program focuses on optimizing findability and enterprise search, and covers
- Enterprise search
- Developing and managing taxonomy
- Content classification, categorization, and clustering
- Fact and entity extraction
- Information presentation
Selection of specific programs as above indicates that
- The primary focus is on business processes, and on streamlining them through re-engineering, and
- Decision makers working with the re-engineered processes can be supported with better decision-support information using ECM technologies
According to AIIM, the four primary areas in which ECM helps business organizations are: Compliance, Collaboration, Cost, and Continuity.
Compliance involves complying with government regulations. Regulations can specify the information to be maintained, formats, confidentiality requirements, preservation periods, etc. Costs of compliance can be reduced if these requirements are integrated into the business content management processes instead of being attended to as a special compliance project.
Collaboration means groups working together to achieve goals. Groups can produce better results than individuals not only because there are more people to work but also because of the complementary and varied expertise they can bring to achieving desired results. ECM can facilitate collaboration by providing tools such as instant messaging, whiteboarding, online meeting, and e-mailing, for example.
ECM facilitates customer service and relationships, legal compliance, streamlined business processes and so on. Without ECM support, these areas could yield lower level performances leading to lost business, high legal and operating costs, etc. While ECM itself is a costly exercise, the investment can produce high returns by increasing revenue and reducing costs in the above areas.
Keeping the business going 24/7 is particularly important for global enterprises. This objective requires carefully developed strategies to keep going even in the event of disruptions caused by nature or humans. ECM allows the creation of centralized repositories of content that are separate from standard application repositories and help provide access to vital electronic documents at all times. In today’s business, disruptions that deny access to electronic documents can mean temporary death. Alternatively, backups of carefully identified business-critical information can achieve the same purpose.
Enterprise Content Management Software should be seen as existing for the sole purpose of supporting an organization’s business processes. ECM provides tools for enhanced compliance with regulations, collaborative working of teams, achieving better business results at reduced costs and keeping the business going 24/7 even in the face of unavoidable disruptions.